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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Four out of five stars overall for Encore with front-wheel drive, five stars for all-wheel-drive model.
Five stars, frontal and side impact
'Good,' frontal, side, and rear impact; 'good,' roof strength; 'poor,' small overlap frontal
Thanks to a large windshield and a tall seating position, the Encore also offers excellent forward visibility.
with thick C-pillars, a narrow hatch window, and passengers' heads, rear visibility is compromised.
At least there's a standard rearview camera, along with 10 airbags if you still fail to see something.
The 2014 Buick Encore comes packed with safety technologies and 10 airbags, but its crash-test scores aren't as good as they could be.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Encore four stars out of five overall in front-wheel-drive form, though that rises to five of five for the AWD version that offers forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning systems. Both versions get five stars for front and side crash safety, and four stars for rollover safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Buick Encore a Top Safety Pick for 2013, with its highest rating of "Good" for the moderate-overlap front crash, side impact, and roof strength tests. However, the Encore suffered a "Poor" rating in the newly added low-overlap front crash test--something that Buick may attempt to remedy in this year's Encore or in the future.
The Encore comes standard with a rearview camera in every model, which is a good thing, because its side and rear-quarter vision is nothing short of atrocious. The thick door and roof pillars, rising beltline, and small rear window combine to make it almost impossible for the drive to look over a shoulder and see what's back there. The camera is a necessity.
Optional equipment includes all-wheel drive, about $1,500, and camera-based safety systems that watch the road ahead and use lane markings to alert the driver if they're drifting out of the lane or closing too quickly. Some of those systems can be overly cautious, but the Encore only occasionally offered a stray beep on steep roads. Bundled with those systems is both the premium Bose audio system and parking sensors to supplement the rearview camera. Blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts are new this year.
The Buick Encore comes with Bluetooth connectivity as standard, and also includes GM's OnStar telematics system. It comes with six months' worth of free Directions and Connections service, plus access to a mobile app that enables destination programming, remote start, and other convenient features. Want to track family members and where they're going in the car? That's included too, on an opt-in basis.
Ten airbags and a standard rearview camera are commendable, but the Encore's safety ratings aren't perfect.